Sometimes the actions that sound the simplest are the hardest to carry out. The command to “love” is all over the Bible. We love God and those around us. We love our church family and love our enemies. Over and over and over again Christians are called to love, but what does that really require? Jesus gives us an answer to this question in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).
To love our neighbor we must understand who our neighbors are (10:29).It can be tempting to narrow the scope of neighbor to those closest to us, but neighbors encompass everyone we’re around and may come into contact with.
To love our neighbor we must be willing to be inconvenienced (10:33). The Samaritan was on a journey, but was willing to have a delay in that journey for the sake of others. People are more important than schedules.
To love our neighbor we must have compassion (10:33-34). A listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, a sounding board for pain…there are a lot of ways to show compassion to others.
To love our neighbor we must willing to part with earthly goods (10:35). The stuff we have is a gift from God and isn’t to be hoarded, but used for His glory. Sometimes that takes the form of using it to give to those in need.
To love our neighbor we must show mercy (10:37). The stranger did nothing to earn the love of the Samaritan, but the Samaritan showed it anyway. Our neighbors may not deserve love, but we show it anyway.
Part of the difficulty in loving others comes from our definition of love. We tend to define love from the standpoint of the one needing it. In other words, we find it hard to love others because those that need love from us often do not deserve it. This is not how Jesus defines love. The love of God is defined from the standpoint of the one giving the love. God loves because He is love (John 3:16) and even though we don’t deserve it, He gives it anyway. Want to love your neighbor? Love them through understanding, inconvenience, compassion, and departing with earthly goods, even though they may not deserve it.